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The Hidden Consequences of Porn

[This is part of our Let’s Talk About Sex Series] Porn is becoming more and more accepted in culture. To anyone who’s been paying even the slightest attention to this phenomenon, this is not news. It used to be that porn was restricted to the magazines you had to buy secretly and hide under your bed, but nowadays few (young) people make a secret of their fascination with porn, in whatever form.

Movies are becoming more and more explicit and even focused on sex and erotica, with movies like Magic Mike (XXL) as an example. Songs make frequent references to sex and the ‘costumes’ singers wear both in videos and on stage get more and more risky. Women read ‘mommy porn’ like the Fifty Shades of Grey series and the many, many similar series after that. And when studying the effects of Internet porn, researchers have trouble finding guys who have never watched it. Teens are being exposed to porn at an ever younger age.

As Christians, we object to porn on moral grounds, theological grounds. But there are many, many more reasons to take a stand against the ever increasing acceptance of porn, in whatever form. Research shows again and again the detrimental effects of porn on various aspects of people’s lives.

In a previous post, we’ve talked about arousal addiction and the effect this has on guys and men. Porn addiction has physiological effects on the brain, much like any addiction really. Research has shown links between porn addiction and the declining results of guys in academics.

In a recent study, researchers in the UK studied anal sex amongst heterosexual teens. Their findings show that teens engage in anal sex far more frequently, but that there’s often coercion involved. Girls don’t like it, they describe it as painful, yet they are pressured into doing it. Some even describe being forced to do it, of being flat out raped. “Women being badgered for anal sex appears to be considered normal,” researchers concluded.

The reason? Guys have seen it so often in the porn they watch, that they figure it’s normal. They see the female porn stars (I’m quite reluctant to call them stars actually) ‘enjoy’ anal sex, so they deduce it’s pleasurable for women. Even more, guys admitted to feeling ‘expected to persuade or coerce reluctant partners’. And of course, condoms are rarely used in the movies they watch, which makes them engage in unsafe sex as well.

teen couple

Of course, Christian teens don’t do this…or do they?

We want our teens to stay pure till marriage. Sex does not fit into that picture, and neither does porn. Yet the reality is, that many Christians teens watch porn as well. And they are no more immune to the effects of porn than non-Christian teens. Which means that they are developing an unhealthy view on sex, even if they do manage to refrain from having sex with a partner until they are married.

What happens after that? Does the porn addiction magically disappear after marriage? Do the partners suddenly develop a healthy and realistic view on sex? Is all the ‘damage’ from years of watching bad stuff healed upon saying ‘I do’?

Of course not.

We need to talk about these issues with teens. We need to make them aware of the long term effects of what they’re doing, including the hidden consequences of porn they may not realize. Yet. If we want to prepare our students for a healthy, lasting marriage, we cannot avoid topics like this, no matter how uncomfortable they may make us feel.

We shouldn’t shame teens for watching porn; that’s not what I’m saying.  But neither should we consider it normal because our culture does.

Thoughts?

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4 thoughts on “The Hidden Consequences of Porn

  1. […] The Hidden Consequences of Porn It’s an epidemic. […]

  2. Good, that you address these issues!

    With regard to the temptation of sex and porn, in the past 30+ years of pastoral care I discovered, it is important that people (youth included) have a great sense of personal dignity/value and a great sense of belonging. And precisely these two are often missing. Without them, warning against the consequences is futile. Even for a healthy person, rejection and degradation can ruin resistance to addictions like sex/porn. And then, even severe consequences do not matter when “I’m worthless anyway” and/or “have nobody who cares about me or to whom my life means anything…”

    Help young people connect and see & experience their personal value within a community, is the best antidote to porn and other addictions.

    1. You’re very right. Merely addressing the consequences of porn without looking at the deepest roots of the addiction is futile. And those roots may indeed be much deeper than we often realize. Yet we must also be open and bold enough to address those consequences, which are so often denied or brushed away. Even parents can sometimes reason that porn isn’t all that bad and that ‘everyone does it’. Before you can ‘solve’ a problem, you must first agree how big and serious a problem it is!

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